1817 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Frank Sayers

William Taylor of Norwich, "Funeral Elegy" 1817; Poetical Works of the late F. Sayers, M.D. (1830) xcvi-xcvii.



Why slowly tolls yon melancholy bell?
Why at this pillared porch awaits a bier?
At every threshold, where the living dwell,
Death some day stops, and now has enter'd here.

Beneath the sweeping sable pall half-hid
The blazon'd ark of burial dimly glares;
And on the ponderous coffin's oaken lid
A marble tablet tells the name of SAYERS.

Ah what avail'd the form of hero-mold,
The heart that bled for every human wo,
The mind where learning all her stores unroll'd,
Where fancy shone in beamy roseate glow ?

Still is the hand that wak'd the living lyre,
The soothing tongue of eloquence is hush'd;
Chill is the swimming eye, the soul of fire,
And all the flowery bloom of genius crush'd.

And must we now, athwart our tears, behold
For the last time, thou dear departed friend,
Those noble features, pallid, lifeless, cold,
So much rever'd, belov'd—so soon to end ?

Along the whisp'ring linden-shaded way,
Toward the cathedral's mist-encircled spire,
Through vaulted cloisters dim with twilight day,
The bearers slowly seek the holy choir.

Silent and sad his old companions spread
In mournful pairs behind the funeral trains,
And to the mansions of the honour'd dead,
Pursue with pious grief his last remains.

Then o'er his closing grave they bend resign'd,
Till holy lips his mouldering reliques blest,
To earth and kindred dust his dust consign'd,
Henceforth beside a parent's urn to rest.

Oft, when the holy doors unfold, be it mine
To ponder here the inevitable doom;
A frequent pilgrim at thy sacred shrine,
A constant mourner o'er thine early tomb.

Ne'er to this grave-subtending, stately, vault,
Where sleep the great, the brave, the wise, the good,
Arrived a guest with purer merit fraught,
A worthier inmate of the dread abode.

Greet your new comrade, spirits of the blest,
Bend from your sepulchres, ye sainted sires,
With the bright crown of beams his brows invest,
And guide him circling to the heavenly quires.

Three angel-forms attend his shining way:
Faith marshals foremost to the realms of light;
Hope spreads her wings with rainbow-radiance gay;
And Charity sustains the glorious flight.

Eternal tenant of the starry sphere,
Though earthly cares no more thy thoughts confine,
May the fond memory of thy virtues here,
Teach me to live a being worthy thine.